Success or Failure?

November is National Novel Writing Month. The time when many writers will embark on a mission to write a novel in 30 days. Or at least 50,000 words towards a novel project. “Winning” at NaNoWriMo means reaching the 50K benchmark by November 30th.

My apologies for not posting sooner. I intended to share the results of my writing experiment last December, but took an unplanned—but much needed—break from regular blogging.

Last November, I shared a goal of drafting two books during NaNoWriMo. Which is a lofty goal, especially for a writer like me whose work progresses slowly.

But I wondered: was it possible for someone who writes slowly to improve their speed and productivity significantly? After all, athletes train to hone their performance. Why couldn’t a writer do the same?

Having researched writing faster over the years, as well as having tried many of the tools, books, and free advice out there, I came up with a new plan and committed myself to yet another attempt.

The Good, The Bad, and The—What was that?

The essence of the plan was to incorporate more pre-writing work through the use of journals, and to set a schedule to account for naturally productive times and the word count wall I to hit during writing sessions.

I scheduled three daily sessions, setting a higher word count goal for the most productive time of day. Next, I completed the pre-writing journals for book two and book three of my Snow Globe Travelers series, along with a detailed writing outline. Last, I prepared my family and blocked off the time on the calendar.

(You can read about the plan in more detail in the first post: Write 2 Books in 1 Month?!.)

The first two weeks started off well. Word count wasn’t as high as it should have been and the writing schedule got interrupted, but I had my first multi-day writing streak!

The momentum grew. Good writing went out the window. Getting words on the page was the only thing that mattered. In a car, in a lobby, standing, sitting, wherever, whenever—the goal was just to add words.

And then. . .

The distractions came out in full force. Story structure issues appeared. I missed one day, then two. Getting words on paper became like spelling with half-eaten alphabet soup.

My resolve wavered and the NaNoWriMo deadline flew by. But I pressed on, determined to at least finish book two. Finally, four months later, the second draft of book two was complete!

Success or Failure?

While I didn’t write two drafts in one month, the driving force behind the experiment was to discover a way to improve writing performance significantly and continue to push limits. In that, the experiment was a success.

I also completed book two, which included major rewrites. And the total time from rewrite to second draft only took five months for book two. Whereas, my first NaNoWriMo attempt to complete the second draft of book one took twenty months to complete. Fifteen months less!

Looking back, it’s clear all the effort put into writing faster has paid off. The gains are there, even if they didn’t come as fast (or as easy) as I’d hoped.

What works for each writer is different. The plan and the tools did help. But, in the end, it wasn’t the plan or the tools that made the difference. It was the effort and the determination (as cliche as that may sound).

What’s your biggest writing challenge, and what approach are you using to overcome it?

Published by K.A. Cummins

K.A. Cummins is an award-winning author and artist. Her publications include Havok Publishing, Rattle, Blue Mesa Review, and her middle-grade series, Snow Globe Travelers.

2 thoughts on “Success or Failure?

  1. Hi, I read this post and last months about writing 2 books in 30 days (SMH)–interesting and relatable, since I’m a slow writer too. (Or at least slower than most). I have several books plotted but getting words on the page is a struggle. Thanks for sharing your plan–I might attempt NaNo this year! Have a great weekend, Jill

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